Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Reflecting on this and that and the other

I thought I'd start off with a few literal reflections. I noticed the top pane of my greenhouse door was reflecting the green leaves of a tree. All sorts of green. My storage building is painted green and it's attached to my greenhouse which is reflecting the green in my garden.
I noticed that the door to my water heater room was reflecting the flowers from the azalea bush. I need to get organized. Between my water heater room (doubles as a garden shed), storage building, and greenhouse, I have too many places to look for tools that get eaten up by the mess I live with.
You may have to click inside the photo above to see the carolina chickadee getting ready to enter her little house. She doesn't have the organizational issues I have because her house is just right for her nesting needs. Of course she has to work a lot harder than I do bringing in the bed for her babies and finding them food. It always seems easier to have a life that isn't one's own but that's rarely true.
When I was a child I used to fantasize about being a bird. Partly because I wanted to be able to fly. In reality, wildlife may not have the burden of a convoluted brain but it is such hard work. The idea of not only having to hunt for food and find shelter but also avoid predators makes a bird's life seem a lot less fun. Humans may have some of those same challenges but as many problems as civilization brings, we also have a lot of support (or many of us do). I also went through a phase where I thought I'd like to have lived in a different time. I was drawn towards classical music and literature and a fantasy of a by gone era. Then I realized that rather than enjoying this mythical life I was weaving in my head, I would have been more likely to be the maid helping the lady in and out of her beautiful gowns.
It is almost comical how I talked myself out of many of my day dreams. Not sure exactly when that happened but to this day I find myself talking myself out of a lot of fantasies before they even get going.I think that's why I enjoy looking for flower fairies and wood nymphs and other mythical creatures. No guilt with those kinds of fantasies. For whatever reason I do have to find some outlet for imagining. For me, my garden and walks are good places for that type of frivolity.
I've often thought about Thoreau's quote about how "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." I've often felt like the way to avoid that is a rich fantasy life. It's hard to feel desperate no matter what the circumstance while watching a flower fairy dance on spring day.
The great thing about imagination is that you don't even have to be in a garden to watch the flower fairies. I think I'll be focusing on the wood nymphs who are dancing just beyond my view for a while. Then I will return to the tedium significantly less desperate.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Weekend Snapshot and Nature Notes as April Ends

The first shot is one I took today at Shelley Lake where Bill and I went for a morning walk. The rest are from my garden. We have speed dialed from a chilly spring to hot summer days in the space of a week.I'm sure the weather will continue to go back and forth some but it is amazing just how fast it got very hot. Even the cardinal couple in my backyard were kissing in the shade of the trees to stay cool.Most of my roses won't bloom until June but the old fashioned climbing ones are already in full bloom.
As I've mentioned before on my blog, I may not live in a rose covered cottage but I do have a rose covered storage building.I'll admit that I'm not looking forward to the summer heat, but it has been a wonderful spring and these early warm to hot days are quite pleasant.
My early azaleas are pretty much done blooming, but this azalea wall which is always the last to bloom is still in its full glory.To visit other participants please go to the home of Weekend Snapshot, and/or the home of Nature Notes.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Photohunters: Protect(ion)

The photohunter theme this week is protect(ion). Don't forget to use protection when you are out in the sun.
To find other participants, please visit the home of photohunters.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

Today is Earth Day and I had intended to do an earth day post but I've been busy. Therefore I'm going to show some recent nature shots from my immediate area which make me grateful for the beautiful world I'm lucky enough to live in.
I think one of my favorite things about where I live (North Carolina) is the abundance of trees.I complain a lot about the development in my area which has sometimes resulted in a slash and burn approach to new construction, but I am so lucky for all the woodland walks that have been preserved.
I also have a lot of trees at my house which provide shade in the summer and help keep my air conditioning bills down.
There is a lake with a park and greenway trails within walking distance of my house which I am able to enjoy.
My garden is wild and woolly and for the most part I like that although it could stand a little work at the moment.I am happy that my wild garden provides homes and nourishment for many wild animals.
I guess I'll wrap it up here and I'm wishing you a happy earth day today and everyday!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Weekend Snapshot and Nature Notes - A little bit of this and a little bit of that

The oak catkins or pollen bombs are not something I've paid much attention to beyond dreading sinus headaches. However, I started to realize how elegant they are against the sky.
The shot above was taken Friday and the shot below was taken when the catkins were beginning to form ten or so days ago. Some of the other oaks in my yard have already dropped the catkins and formed leaves.
The shot below shows my red azaleas against the oak leaves on my tree that has already dropped its catkins and leafed out. I love the diversity this time of year where some trees and plants are just starting to bud and bloom and others are finished blooming and leafing out. So much variety.
The way the light played around the canadian goose reminded me of the old Disney Films where you knew magic was happening by the twinkling lights.
I've noticed the ducks and geese spend more time in the protected areas around the lakes and streams this time of year. Later in the spring they get very loud when I am too close to their protected spots. I assume that is when the new babies are starting to arrive.My azalea wall below, which provides privacy for one section of my secret garden, is always among the last azaleas to bloom. It is funny to me how it's blooming from the bottom up. Still lots of buds not even close to opening near the top.
My hostas below opened over night going from the tightly coiled spikes jutting out of the ground to the full leaves which will then have spikes of flowers in May sometime.
I also love to watch the ferns unfurl their leaves, almost in slow motion. If I walk outside each morning and put together those memories I can see them unfurl before my very eyes.The variegated periwinkle below was started in part from clippings someone gave me at a party years ago. I admired it and they said, take some but be careful, it will take over. I don't mind it taking over under my oak trees, to a large extent.
I took the shot below at Sertoma Park which is above Shelley Lake where I shot the geese. I like the way there are trees at the very beginning of forming new leaves and then behind them are trees that have completely leafed out.
Since there is a path very near my house which leads through the woods and then around Shelley Lake, I rarely drive to Sertoma Park and take the paths which lead down to the lake from the opposite side to where I live. Because I haven't been in my walking groove, I decided to drive to the park. I was glad I did because the path from the park to the lake has its own charm. That path is shown below.
To wrap up these long meandering nature notes, my Pecan tree is beginning to leaf out as shown below.
The last shot is a closeup of the new pecan leaves. They will get much longer and have a different look when mature but I like the way the new, smaller leaves look.For other participants, please visit the home of nature notes, and/or Weekend Snapshot.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Photohunt: Purple

The photohunt theme this week is purple. When my daughter was about 10 she decided she wanted a purple room.
We reached a compromise and I painted a chair and her bookshelf purple. I also painted the window trim on both windows and the door trim purple.
I shot the purple wisteria above at the beginning of a trail near my house on Monday. All of the wooded trails in my neighborhood are starting to have a ton of wisteria.Yesterday when I was at Shelly Lake I noticed that the Wisteria was so abundant it was starting to bring down trees. That's what I call purple power.
I took so many shots of the wisteria on Thursday that I couldn't decide on one shot alone.
To find other purple posters, please visit the home of Photohunters.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Blooming like crazy around my house and May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month

I thought I'd post some of the shots I've taken over the past week or so of my azalea bushes and dogwood trees. Some of my azaleas are tall enough to be trees. I like them naturalized so the big ones are huge and even the smaller varieties spread out pretty far.
I always feel vindicated when my azaleas, in particular, start to bloom because during certain times of the year they look over grown and messy. However, once they are blooming they put on such a display that it's worth it.My dogwood tree is also huge and it's nice in the summer because I can park underneath it for shade.
After they bloom, I do cut back the azaleas that grow along the driveway side of my house because they start to obstruct the window and I also run out of parking space.
I like the way different azaleas stagger their blooms somewhat so between the various varieties I have several months of blooms. The green wall of plant material behind my car is a mix of white and pink azaleas that are just starting to bloom around the bottom but are only buds near the top. Below is one of the bottom blooms that are starting on that azalea wall.
Some of you may have noticed my spring header. May is skin cancer awareness month and the first Monday in May is Melanoma Monday to promote awareness about that cancer. I have stage III melanoma (no recurrences in four years) and I think it is important that everyone get skins checks so that it can be caught early. Although melanoma doesn't always originate on the skin, that's the most common place and the prognosis is so much better when caught early.
My melanoma was not caught early although it did originate on the skin (spreading to a lymph node). I had nodular melanoma which can be symmetrical and grow deep as opposed to the type which spreads out on the skin before beginning the vertical growth phase. The bad thing about nodular melanoma is that it starts to grow vertically fast. I have been very lucky so far that my melanoma in spite of being very deep only spread to one lymph node.
I wanted to go ahead and mention Melanoma Monday because a number of organizations have free skin cancer screening on that day. You can check out the American Academy of Dermatology's Melanoma Monday site and there are also observances in many other countries.